NXT 14/2/18 Review: All so bright as we fade to Black

The best hour of wrestling every single week should be particularly good this week; Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler AND Pete Dunne vs Roderick Strong! My one true love giving me the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts!

Pete Dunne comes out first to a big pop from the crowd (did I ever mention I was there when he made his main roster WWE TV debut in November? … Did I mention I squealed like a little girl when he came out too? … ), the challenger in this UK Championship match Roderick Strong follows. These 2 are amongst the very best wrestlers in NXT, WWE and the entire world so this should be a fantastic match.

Collar and elbow tie up to begin with, the animosity between the 2 is clear to see, it was a real chess match to begin with. They have a wondeful series of exchanges of moves, Pete Dunne then attacking the left arm of Strong with a hard kick, he bends his fingers back and stomps on them onto the steps on the outisde. The joint manipulation continues as The Bruserweight continues his typically methodical attack, Strong then comes back with a back drop onto the steps. That’s followed up by kicks to Dunne’s face, a pumphandle back breaker then earning a 2 count as the Messiah of the backbreaker zones in on the Bruserweight’s back.

More targeted attacks follows, Strong stomps Dunne in the corner before taking him to the other corner on the top rope before Dunne smacks Roderick Strong off and to the floor on the outside of the ring. That’s followed up by a stomp from the top onto Strong’s arm that was laying prone on the ring apron. Strong comes back with an enziguri to Dunne on the apron before slamming him down on the “hardest part of the ring” …

A wondeful enziguri from Dunne to Strong back in the ring which was returned with a big elbow. Dunne hits a step up enziguri after a wonderful leap frog-back flip over Strong in the corner which eventually leads to an armbar that transitions into a hammerlock submission, which is only stopped by a ruthless slam from Strong to put Dunne down as the ‘Bruserweight’ chants from the crowd echo the arena. Dunne hits a sit out powerbomb for a nearfall as the crowd chants for both men continue, Strong then misses a flying knee in the corner and falls into a German suplex from Dunne. The maniacal Dunne then flies off the top rope only to eat a dropkick from Strong for a 2 count. Quick pin attempts are exchanged before Dunne locks in a triangle hold that is powered out of as he is slammed onto the ring ropes.

Both men on the top rope ends with Strong delivering an avalanche Olympic slam but only gets a 2 count. 2 wondeful knees and a slam earns Strong, whom is well on top now, another 2 count. Dunne counters another move by attempting a Bitter End which is in turn countered by more vicious strikes from Roderick Strong and another high knee gets another 2 count. The former ROH star attempts to lock in his Strong Hold submission (aka a harsher walls of Jericho) but Dunne snaps Strong’s fingers again to escape before then hitting his Bitter End finishing move to claim to victory and retain his United Kingdom Championship.

Simply put this match was… FANTASTIC!

It’s then announced Johhny Gargano vs the NXT Champion Andrade Almas will take place NEXT WEEK (see my NXT review of last week) … the hype is soooooo real!!!

We’re then shown an “earlier today” backstage interview/press conference segment with the Velveteen Dream. He’s asked for his thoughts on his match against No Way Jose next week and says whilst he will bring the fiesta the Velveteen Dream will bring an experience. Dream then kind of calls out TYLER BATE! Those two in a feud?!?!?! YES YES YES!!! (The Velveteen Dream is THE future of NXT and WWE btw mark my words, potential future blog subject for sure).

Next out in the ring comes Aleister Black. Aleister Black, if Velveteen Dream is the future, is the PRESENT star of NXT. Gargano is the best wrestler, Black is the most brilliant character as the dark mysterious guy that has an incredible offence based around his ferocious kicks. In short: he’s great.

He comes to the ring in a FRESH all dark suit, and cuts a promo explaining his current and recent path in NXT (in which he has gone through Andrade Almas, Hideo Itami, Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole in the Undisputed Era) and that now the devil on his back that drives him is the NXT Championship. He’s the cut off by KILLIAN DAIN (Big Damo)!!!

The Beast of Belfast then explains to Black that ‘the devil isn’t on his back, I am the devil!’ And that he wont stop until the NXT title is around his waist. Dain goes on saying that if Black has a problem with that then he warns him that “your path will be stopped by CHAOS” before making his exit from the ring. Before he can step off the ring apron Black tells Dain that now he has crossed him he must now “fade to Black”. Dain then makes his exit. So… we have a Killian Dain vs Aleister Black number 1 contenders match on the way then… YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! TAKE ALL MY MONEY NXT YOU ARE WAY TOO GOOD TO ME!

Following this TM61 were in tag action. Decent showing from them. They’re good wrestlers and are slowly building their characters. They got all their stuff in en route to an easy win. Definitely a team to keep eyes on in NXT. Perhaps 1 big showing on a big stage will be all they need to begin their march to NXT glory. Their last big match before their long injury caused absence was against the Authors of Pain on a big Takeover show and they looked great. They’re more than capable of getting to that level again.

Shayna Baszler vs Ember Moon now in our main event for the NXT Women’s Championship. The futures and potential in WWE for these 2 women are absolutely limitless so this should be good if they’re previous encounters are anything to go by. The champion Moon shows very heavy tape support to sell her arm injury suffered at Baszler’s hands at Takeover: Philly. Plenty of smack talk exchanged during the introductions between these 2, should be a real “Slobberknocker” (J.Ross,199something).

Ember Moon immediately takes the fight to Baszler with a LOT of hard strikes to her opponent. Baszler attempts an armbar a few times during the onslaught from Moon but is unable to connect. Ember then hits a superb enziguri to continue her super aggressive start. She then goes to the top rope to perhaps set up her Eclipse finisher (a stunner from the top rope to the dazed opponent standing in the ring) but Baszler smartly rolls to the outside. She only then is flattened by a tope suicida.

Moon hurts her arm further in the process before Baszler drags her opponent into the ring and locks in a set of double wristlocks and does her gruesome kick/stomp on the arm move too. The champion is then able to roll The queen of spades through for a 2 count in an attempt to mimic her winning maneuver from their Takeover match. Baszler continues the assault on Ember Moon’s prone arm by wrenching on it more until a ropebreak gives the NXT Women’s Champion mercy.

A Moon roll up for 2 is followed by an outer ring attack as Shayna throws her opponent’s weakened arm into a steel ring post. Baszler’s sadistic nature is shown in full as she takes the cover off the guardrails that keeps the spectators back, she traps Moon’s arm in between the railings and goes to work; plenty of kicks and wrenching on the arm. It looks as if some serious damage could be done to Ember’s arm here UNTIL…. MY GIRL KAIRI SANE COMES OUT TO MAKE THE SAVE!!! Fyi Kairi Sane beat Shayna Baszler in the final of the Mae Young Classic last year, Baszler made her NXT tv debut by attacking Sane so these 2 have plenty of recent history (I should also be honest and say I absolutely adore Kairi Sane; male or female, WWE or anywhere else in the wrestling world she is one of my favourite wrestlers).

The Pirate Princess Sane launches her attack on Baszler which ends with Sane in the ring countering a potential Baszler reaction with an absolutely breathtaking spear to send Baszler packing. Baszler stood on the ramp, Sane stood in the ring as the two stared down. Ember Moon still hurting outside the ring was helped up by Sane as the show closed (this was sensationally well done to summarise).

And that was this weeks NXT. And it was SUPERB! Not enjoyed an hour of wrestling that much for a long long time!

Key points to take home:

– Pete Dunne needs to be on the main roster NOW

– NXT is fading to Black. And he needs to be champion for a LONG time

– Moon – Baszler – Sane. YES, YES, YES!

– NXT is the best

– NXT is the best

Conclusion:

When you consider on this week’s NXT there was no Undisputed Era, no Johhny Gargano and Candice LeRae, no Almas and Vega, no Nikki Cross etc. Etc. The strength in depth of NXT’s roster is amazing. It’s continuously such an excellent show all round, and Raw and Smackdown could learn a lot from this weekly hour of excellence. And as I’ve said NXT is continuing to fade to Black, and I could not be happier.

Josh.

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